Smaller than a train-station in central London, I walked through Trujillo airport at night after a long 12-hour journey. Outside, I was picked up by volunteer co-ordinator - Ryan, who stood by an impressive grass-covered Nissan Patrol with a Wind-Aid logo on the side, nicknamed ‘the Beast.’
Over the weekend, I mingled with the other volunteers – Sofia, Harris and Danny, and climatized to the area. We had a great time, as we relaxed at the beach, played pick up football with locals and shared a large gladiator pizza in the evening. All of us were prepared and excited for the upcoming working week.
On the first day, I was introduced to the friendly and enthusiastic WindAid team, briefed on the program and told about the organisation's goals. It was an evocative morning as we walked down to the shore and were shown how the coast had eroded rapidly due to climate change. It was an unforgettable, sad scene that highlighted the need to develop and spread renewable energy. You can see how drastic the scene has changed in the past 14 years. In the afternoon, I got a tour around the well-equipped workshop, which included intro details about how turbines work and the progress that WindAid has made in the design of the blade and its manufacturing process.
On Tuesday, we drove 2 hours out to a school in Chocofan. There had been issues with the stability of the turbine there, so we had to take it down. It was daunting as the turbines spun high above. Nonetheless, with help from the Beast, we took it down carefully by undoing the wire supports and slowly lowered it. After playing football and volleyball with the school kids, we returned to the house with a dismantled turbine strapped onto the roof of a fully packed patrol. It was a cheerful evening as Peru progressed further into the football World Cup qualifiers, beating Ecuador 2-1 - especially as they haven’t got this far in over 35 years!
Over the next few days, the real work started as I was in the workshop learning how to make turbine blades. There have been issues with the strength of the blade against heavy impacts, such as birds, leading to fracture. To mitigate this, I am going to help produce 3 sets of turbine blades, each with a different kind of metal reinforcement inside. Later in the month when they are complete, we will test each blade to see how they respond to impact to decide which is best to implement in future blades.
To start this process, we placed the metal in the mould, cut out fiberglass to place inside it and produced a mix to pour in the mould. When the foam hardened overnight, we opened up the mould and took out the rough foam core. The core was cut and sanded down, then carbon fibre was wrapped around it. On Friday, we made resin mix to pour into a carefully prepared, vacuum-sealed mould, for the outer casing of another carbon-fibre wrapped turbine, which we left to harden over the weekend. On the side, we worked on the unsteady turbine with preparing new coils and welding together a new metal spine. I was exhausted at the end of Friday but with good reason. It was a very productive and memorable first week.